49ers

Richard Sherman as dominant as ever with 49ers, as many numbers prove

Richard Sherman as dominant as ever with 49ers, as many numbers prove

SANTA CLARA -- Richard Sherman stood at the podium after another performance for the ages, demanding your respect.

One thing, Richard. You’ve always had it.

Fire-take artists get paid to be both loud and inflammatory, but they don’t represent the strong and silent majority. Deep down, Sherman has to realize that’s the class that really matters.

Those folks know the 49ers cornerback is amazing and always has been.

Sherman certainly was during Saturday’s 27-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium. His third-quarter interception was the pivot point that advanced the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game.

“I knew what the route was. I beat him to the spot,” Sherman said. “Kirk [Cousins] threw a very catchable ball and I appreciate it. I was able to make the play.”

That gave the 49ers strength to break backs on an eight-play, eight-run drive that ended the resistance.

It also was a reminder why no one throws at a 31-year-old two-plus years removed from an Achilles’ tendon tear. Bad things happen.

“Since I got in the league, in every category that matters to a corner, I'm No. 1 in completion percentages, interceptions, touchdowns against, yards, completion percentage, passer rating,” Sherman said. “If that was any other corner, it wouldn't even be a conversation. But I just get tired of it. In the playoffs, I played in 13 games now, zero touchdowns given up, three interceptions.

"Like, show me somebody else doing it like that. Then I'll enjoy the argument. But there isn't one.”

It’s clear Sherman has done his homework. The Stanford product is correct on all counts. He leads the league in every category he mentioned in his epic postgame diatribe extolling his own virtues.

Sherman spent considerable time reminding people of his awesomeness after Saturday’s win. He doesn’t need to. The numbers do that for him.

Let’s ignore, for a second, his place in history. Let’s focus on performance at his advanced age.

Sherman has been targeted 34 times in his last 13 games. According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, he has allowed 17 receptions for 130 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Sherman’s allowing 10 receiving yards per game. Again, for those in the back: 10 receiving yards per game.

Even the folks on “First Take” have to say "Wow."

Let’s not use the excuse of teams preferring to target other 49ers cornerbacks. Going at Sherman has proven as fruitless as ever.

He has allowed 27 receptions for 227 yards (all season!) on 51 targets, with one touchdown. Receivers average 8.4 yards per catch. Quarterbacks have a 46.8 passer rating against him.

“That’s ‘Sherm’ for you,” fellow cornerback Emmanuel Moseley said. “That’s just what he does.”

[RELATED: Sherman aces toughest test vs. haters in 49ers' playoff win]

Sherman wants you to know just how good he is, and there’s reason to crow. He has three picks and 11 passes defensed in 13 postseason games, most of them spent with the Seahawks. Many thought he was washed up after signing with the 49ers, but the second-team All-Pro keeps doing impactful things.

“Sherm’s still one of the greatest,” linebacker Dre Greenlaw said. “… It’s all a credit to a guy who has been in this game a long time and works incredibly hard and is still making plays like he did as a younger man.”

Akiem Hicks shades Mike Glennon to argue Colin Kaepernick blackballed

Akiem Hicks shades Mike Glennon to argue Colin Kaepernick blackballed

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks needed just four words to sum up why he thought former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had been blackballed by the NFL.

"We signed Mike Glennon."

Hicks said as much in a video press conference with reporters Wednesday, referring to Chicago's decision to sign Glennon to a contract worth $18.5 million guaranteed in 2017. Kaepernick, who had kneeled during the national anthem before games to protest police brutality and institutional racism throughout the 2016 season, went unsigned that entire offseason and since then.

Kaepernick's protest has received renewed attention as protestors demonstrate around the world against the same societal issues the QB sought to highlight. George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died last Monday in Minneapolis police custody after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as he pleaded that he couldn't breathe. Floyd's death also occurred within months of Louisville police fatally shooting a 26-year-old African American woman named Breonna Taylor, and nearly four months after two white men allegedly followed and shot Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American man, as he jogged in his Georgia neighborhood.

Kaepernick argued his protest against police brutality cost him his job as part of a collusion lawsuit he ultimately settled with the NFL last February, and he has been a free agent since opting out of his contract with the 49ers -- after they said they would release him otherwise -- in 2017. Former 49ers teammate Alex Smith said last month it's "absurd" Kaepernick, who led San Francisco to a Super Bowl appearance and an NFC Championship Game berth in back-to-back seasons, has not been employed by an NFL team since then.

“I think he would have gotten a good deal if he had not protested,” Hicks said. “Does he have all the qualifications that we seem to be looking for in NFL quarterbacks? Athletic. He can get the ball down the field. I think that he fits a lot of those categories. Do I know if he would have gotten a huge deal and gone onto be a Hall of Fame quarterback? I don’t know these things. I just know that when he took a knee, he was silenced -- or they attempted to silence him.”

Some of Kaepernick's critics argued he played his way out of a job. Yes, the 49ers went just 1-10 after a healthy Kaepernick regained the starting job from Blaine Gabbert in 2016. But the QB posted a 90.1 passer rating and 16 touchdowns (to four interceptions), all while playing on a team that current general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan couldn't wait to strip for spare parts the following offseason.

Nine 49ers caught at least 10 passes from Kaepernick in 2016, and seven didn't return to San Francisco the following season. Only one of those nine players, depth tight end Garrett Celek, was on the 49ers' roster in 2019. Three haven't played in an NFL game since then, and another (Rod Streater) has only played in three games -- all in 2018 -- during that time.

[RELATED: Shanahan believes Jimmy G has ability to be "all-time" great]

Of course, the Bears might have seen enough when Kaepernick completed just one of five passes for 4 yards against Chicago in the middle of a December snowstorm. Kaepernick's 45 snaps in that game could've been plenty, considering Glennon played all of 15 snaps in 2016 before the Bears signed him to a three-year contract worth up to $45 million.

But Glennon didn't last a season as the Bears' starter, losing his job to Mitchell Trubisky -- who the Bears selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft following a trade with the 49ers -- after just four games. The Bears eventually cut Glennon in 2018.

Glennon has played for three teams since then, and Kaepernick hasn't played for one.

“What I will say is this, though: It’s not a Chicago problem, it’s an entire-league problem," Hicks said of Kaepernick remaining unsigned. "There’s 31 other teams.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Why 49ers' George Kittle 'loves' playing for head coach Kyle Shanahan

Why 49ers' George Kittle 'loves' playing for head coach Kyle Shanahan

George Kittle has rapidly ascended during his three NFL seasons. Originally a fifth-round draft pick in 2017, Kittle has become one of the league's best tight ends playing in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

When asked what it's like to play for the young head coach, Kittle couldn't be more thrilled about having Shanahan at the helm in San Francisco.

"Awesome, Kyle is the man, I love playing for him," Kittle told Will Compton and Taylor Lewan on this week's episode of the "Bussin' With The Boys" podcast. "One of my favorite things about him is he just loves football so much. And when you have a guy that loves football and its not work for him, it makes it pretty easy to play for the guy. He doesn't have to give a pump-up speech, you can just tell how much it means to him."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kittle also appreciates that Shanahan doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to communicating with his players.

"He's just straight up with everybody," Kittle said. "We were 4-12 (in 2018), and he still got up in front of the team and didn't bulls--t us or anything like, he's like, 'This is why we're not good, this is what we have to do to be better, we just have to work hard and practice better.' So he's always straight up with us."

[RELATED: Steve Young wants 49ers' Kyle Shanahan to challenge Jimmy Garoppolo]

He certainly has evoked a similar reaction from many of his players, as Shanahan's passion helped players gravitate towards the head coach.

Shanahan, Kittle and the rest of the 49ers' roster will come to training camp hungry, looking to avenge a heartbreaking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.